25 September, 2020

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Unconditional Muslim Support Facilitated Island’s Independence

By Latheef Farook

Latheef Farook

Latheef Farook

Crucial Muslim support facilitated the process of Sri Lanka  gaining  independence from British in 1948 and help end almost four and half centuries of European colonial rule in the island. Many still remember the leading role played by Muslims leaders such as Dr T.B.Jayah, Sir Razik Fareed, Dr M.C.M.Kaleel and Dr Badiduddin Mahmud in the constitutional reforms of this country and their enthusiastic support for the demand of the Dominion Status and   independence. They never obstructed the political progress of the country.

For example when the demand for independence began gathering momentum World War 11 broke out in Europe. The British government urged all its colonies to support them assuring that they would be given independence after the war.

In the aftermath of the World War 11, agitation for political reforms and independence began to gather momentum. However the British government insisted that three quarters of the population should support the demand for independence to ensure the rights of minorities were protected. With the Sinhalese community as a whole constituting less than three quarters of the population this was an impossible demand to fulfill unless the minorities supported.

Tamil Congress leader G.G.Ponnambalam demanded equal representation, better known as fifty –fifty. However the Muslims stood fully behind the majority community and help to meet the British demand for the support of two third of the population despite past sufferings and disadvantages.

Addressing a gathering at Zahra College grounds under the chairmanship of Sir Mohamed Macan Markar to protest against the inadequate representation of Muslims in the Legislative Council Dr. Badiduddin Mahmoud, the Secretary of the All Ceylon Muslim Political Conference said on 5 March 1939;

“Let me assure my Sinhalese countrymen that I am one among them in demanding complete freedom for our country. They can count on me as one of the most ardent admirers of their legitimate national and cultural aspirations. In me and in my community, let them know that they find the most trusted friends and kind neighbors in this island. They would never find wanting in me or in my community that unflinching loyalty and patriotism that this little island would demand one day from its sons and daughters to carve out a niche of fame for itself as a self- respecting unit in a world federation. Let me also assure my Sinhalese friends that the brave community to which I belong shall never consider any sacrifice too great to make Lanka a happy, prosperous and glorious country in the world where not one section of its population but every son and daughter of her soil shall legitimately take pride in her glorious destiny”.

In keeping with this policy the three Muslim representatives in the State Council extended their whole- hearted support for the “Dominion Status Bill” – a Sri Lankan bill sponsored by the late Mr.S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike when it came for the vote on 9 November 1945.  T.B.Jayah and Dr M.C.M Kaleel spoke in favour of the bill while Sir Razik Fareed and Dr Kaleel voted in favour as Jayah was not present during the time of voting.

During his speech Razik Fareed said” “the All Ceylon Moors Association   pledge their support to the resolution of the Hon Leader under discussion today. Nothing  else would at the moment give me great pleasure to do so, and to express my whole hearted support to the Hon leader’s proposal. As my community and I have always stood by them, I must say that in the hour of his triumph we join hands with him in the forward march to the goal of the proposal to which he aspires”…

Supporting the Sri Lankan Bill despite its disadvantages to Muslims and defining the attitude of Muslims towards the bill Mr.T.B. Jayah said:” I am glad, Sir, that it has been stated that this is not the moment for jubilation or exultation or even for mutual recrimination. I certainly think that this is not the occasion to speak of the discomfiture of the minority communities’ or of the victory of the majority community”.

“As far as I am concerned, I speak with the full support of members of the Muslim community. I saw to it that the Ceylon Muslim League, representing the Muslim community of Ceylon, consulted Muslim representatives   in different parts of the  country on the important issues before the house and I am in a position to say that the Muslim members of this Council have the fullest backing of the Muslim community in this island”.

“When the Muslims of the Council decided to take a definite stand at the time the Sri Lanka –Bill was introduced, they did so for one and one reason only. The reason was that where the political freedom of this country was involved, they were prepared to go to any length, even to the point of sacrificing advantages and benefit as a result of such action”. As far as I am concerned, Sir, I do not consider any right greater than the right of political freedom and therefore, although I am fully conscious of those disadvantages of the Bill, looking at it from a narrow point of view, yet I am prepared to support this Bill”.

Expressing his gratitude to the Muslim members on behalf of the Sinhalese community, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike assured that he would consider any reasonable request by the Muslim community. Bandaranaike said:” I say that if any member has brought closer the achievement of agreement among the various sections of the people of the country by an attitude of generosity where even those with whom he is concerned to differ, I say the fullest credit must go more than anyone else among us to the Honorable nominated Member, Mr. T.B. Jayah. He has made a speech today that will have a great effect in bringing unity among the people of this country in bringing some sense of reality to this struggle, however it may shape, that we are going to undertake to obtain a satisfactory measure of freedom”..

“ What have the three members,T.B.Jayah,Dr M.C.M.Kaleel and Razik Fareed, have done? There is provided in the Bill a Scheme of Representation under which the Muslim community in this country might suffer in the form in which it appears, but yet, he himself so sincerely determined to work for the main idea of freedom that he was prepared to vote for the principle embodied in the Bill”.

“But I can give the Hon Nominated member, Mr T.B.Jayah, this assurance on behalf of, I think, the vast majority, at least the Community that I represent, that in the struggle for freedom whatever may or may not be the recommendation of the Soulbury Commission on our representation, he may be rest assured that we will be quite prepared to consider any reasonable point of view that, might be put forward.

Thus the Muslim support provided the required support of two third majority of the population paving the way for the island’s independence on 4 February 1948 when Mr. D.S.Senanayake lowered the British flag and hoisted the Sri Lankan National Flag and declared the island’s independence.

Muslims have lived in harmony and peace with the Sinhalese and Tamils for centuries and they wanted to continue to do so. As stated by former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva rightly  that “Muslims have been a peaceful ethnic group interacting with other religious and ethnic groups, cordially interlinking those cultures with their own culture. They never organized themselves for armed insurrection or destruction”.

They were not party to the ethnic conflict. However their sufferings were immense.

What many conveniently forget is the crucial role played by the Muslims in preserving the territorial integrity of the island. For example, during the early days, Tamil militants’ call for a separate state had the full backing of India and the island’s armed forces were not equipped or trained, as they are today, to deal with them.

From the very inception, Muslims throughout the country   vehemently opposed calls for the division of the country and firmly stood for territorial integrity and unity. Nevertheless, they were entangled into this unfortunate and unwanted ethnic conflict only to face death, devastation, loss of properties and livelihood and displacement with no appreciation. Around 130,000 Muslims driven out from Jaffna have been still languishing in refugee camps in appalling conditions and their plight is nobody’s business for more than 20 years.

Had the Muslims joined the Tamil militancy during its early stage the island’s fate would have been sealed and the history would have projected a new political landscape. It is unfortunate that   these sufferings and sacrifices have never been highlighted in its proper perspective. I am sure the Muslim community is prepared to take ten steps if the authorities take one-step to take them into confidence to pave the way for cordiality and communal harmony.

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Latest comments

  • 8
    7

    The figures 130,000 Muslims from Jaffna itself speaks volumes about this writers integrity.
    This makes the Muslim population of Jaffna over 10% of the total population , what a bull shit. These [Edited out] need to be treated the way LTTE treated them. No wonder these UN principled scoundrels are not trusted any where in the world. Thoppy pitaddy ( turn coat) is at it again I sincerely hope my co religionists the Sinala Buddhists are not going to fall for these weasel words.

    • 1
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      Every time this man writes something he harms the Muslim cause with his mendacious irrelevancies. I will say nothing of whether Muslims played a role in the Independence process or not at this time as the personalities who actually played that noble role are all known in our
      history. But to say Badi-ud-din Mahmud was one takes the cake. Mahmud
      came into the political discourse around the 1970s. Before that he
      was Principal of a school in the Hills (Zahira/Gampola?) and was sent as part of a Ceylon delegation to the UN by SWRD.

      Kettikaran

      • 2
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        Perhaps you do not know much about Badi-ud-din Mahmud’s past. Read this para in the atricle to know the fact. ‘Addressing a gathering at Zahra College grounds under the chairmanship of Sir Mohamed Macan Markar to protest against the inadequate representation of Muslims in the Legislative Council Dr. Badiduddin Mahmoud, the Secretary of the All Ceylon Muslim Political Conference said on 5 March 1939’. Farook is right.

  • 6
    5

    Why doesn’t this fool say he is willing to lick the Sinhalese arses again without using euphemisms such as ” the Muslim community is willing to take ten steps if the authorities take one step in to confidence—–blah, blah

    I will invite the Sinhalese people to think rationally and find that we Tamils both Hindus and Christians are your nearest of kin despite the unfortunate recent past. Mahavansa is a legend and not an authentic historic record the day the educated Sinhalese realise this there will be communal harmony in Srilanka. We don’t need this alien mob with skull caps playing dirty politics on our unfortunate divisions. This ( Muslim) mob is a danger not only to the Tamil Hindus and Sinhala Buddhists but to the entire civilised world, let us jointly eliminate this menace if necessary by force.

    This is why Sir Pon Ramanathan openly supported our co- religionists the Buddhist and did not fall for the weasel words of this alien mob with alien culture. We Tamils and the Sinhalese are Dravidians and share a common heritage. We need to Deal with this Muslim menace in the way the Burmese and Thai Buddhists are dealing with them.

    By the way I call a Spade a spade that is why I have said what I have to say about this message here.

  • 5
    1

    Dear Latheef Farook –

    “What many conveniently forget is the crucial role played by the Muslims in preserving the territorial integrity of the island. For example, during the early days, Tamil militants’ call for a separate state had the full backing of India and the island’s armed forces were not equipped or trained, as they are today, to deal with them.”

    Well summarized factual account. Yes Muslims contributed and they wanted independence as much as the other citizens and other countries such as India.

    However, the problem we have now is that that generation that fought for independence as a one-nation, has died out, some became racists and opportunists including DS and SWRD, and been overtaken by the Mahahnama Sinhlaa Buddhist racists and their monk Mahanama imaginations.

    The minorities both Tamil and Muslims are caught in the Vail sand Switch strategy of the Sinhala Mahanama Buddhists. They do not follow Buddhism. They follow racism.

    Have you ever wondered why, even after 2,300 years of interaction between Tamil and Sinhala there are hardly any Tamil Buddhists? Monk Mahanama?

    Bali, Indonesia is a peaceful Hindu island, 94% Hindu and peaceful because they did not have a Monk Mahanama.

    You may say, it is Monk Mahanama Buddhism that is the curse of Lanka.

  • 6
    4

    The figures 130,000 Muslims from Jaffna itself speaks volumes about this writers integrity.
    This makes the Muslim population of Jaffna over 10% of the total population , what a bull shit. These [Edited out]need to be treated the way LTTE treated them. No wonder these un-principled scoundrels are not trusted any where in the world. Thoppy pitaddy ( turn coat) is at it again I sincerely hope my co religionists the Sinhala Buddhists are not going to fall for these weasel words.

  • 3
    0

    The we vs them attitude was always there in the minds of the Sinhala people at all times when it came to Tamils and Muslims and other minority communities. Even when the Muslim leaders such as Dr T.B.Jayah, Sir Razik Fareed, Dr M.C.M.Kaleel and Dr Badiduddin Mahmud offered uncoditional support to the SWRD proposed ‘Dominion Status Bill’ the precursor to full independance, all that SWRD could say to the Muslims was, “that we will be quite prepared to consider any reasonable point of view that, might be put forward.” Here he meant ‘we’ only refering to the Sinhala community. The inability to encompass all citizens despite their ethnic origin or religious affiliations when a leader says ‘we’ is the crux of all ills that afflicts Sri Lanka.

  • 9
    1

    Mr Farook: You are right on this auspicious Independence day to recall the very laudable stance that the leaders of the Muslim community took at the time and in the years immediately afterwards. Sadly, the innocence of the minorities was quickly lost in the aftermath of 1956 when it became very clear that our political parties and their leaders had taken off their gloves in the quest for the Sinhala, and particularly the Sinhala-Buddhist, vote. For me Muslim innocence was first lost one hot and sunny day in late May 1958 when I saw grown Muslim men drop their trousers to avoid being mistaken for the beleaguered Tamils fleeing Maradana. The minorities were never able to fathom the duplicity of the evolving post-independence Sinhala political class and, survived all these turbulent years keeping their voices measured and their heads below the parapet. Never has the stock of the Musselman in Sri Lanka been as low as what it is now. Reminding us as to what it was in those long-gone days of innocence only shows how far the subsequent leaders of the Muslim community have allowed it to slip.

  • 2
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    We Muslims stood fully behind the majority community because we don’t want Tamils here.

    • 2
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      Muslims always stand behind to [Edited out]

    • 1
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      not becused of Tamils,but because you are a Sinhala [Edited out].

    • 0
      0

      Dont be selfish You can see how our community daily facing difficulties
      all around the country As the situation now i feel we all minorities
      get together for our rights should bring to notice of international
      community Only Tamils who have voice all over the world can help us to live happily with all rights All our Muslim politicians concerned only their personal benefit

  • 1
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 5
    10

    Muslims are like pests. Muslim men should stop their woman wearing hijabs and niqabs, so that they don’t look like walking bin bags on the streets. You are wrong mr Farook! I don’t see any Muslims contribute but only grab from the society.

  • 2
    1

    What Muslims did in the past does not count in the present as the Radical Bhikkus instilling the ‘fear factor’ in the minds of the sheeple to hold on to power. This “fear weapon” is invoked in numerous ways which makes people feel fearful and insecure so that the “controllers / rulers” can exert all manner of oppressive and invasive controls over the people. Surprisingly it works. Muslims should seek individual independence rather than rely on the “controllers / rulers”

  • 3
    4

    Pakistan?

    Certainly not SL because all SL independence leaders including DSS were jailed for whacking Muslims in 1915 riot!!

    Tell that to Ali Jinnah!

    • 3
      1

      At that time Britain was against Islamic Turkey.

      White rulers were very happy with 1915 and gave independence 33 years later.

      • 3
        5

        True that Buddhist monks in Burma are roasting Muslims like turkey.

  • 1
    3

    Whats this obsession that the sinhalese have with muslim womens clothing??? Please mind your own business! You people cant even get your women to dress properly, but you have the nerve to poke your piggish noses into other peoples business. Whether you like it or not, the abaya stays! It is a human right to wear the abaya/niqab. You modayas have no right to tell us what yo do. Because we werent born on this free earth to live our lives according to how your moda race wants. If the abaya is to be banned, then then the saffron robes and the dhaham paasal dress MUST be banned too. The saffron robe makes a monk look like a woman lol coz it looks like a saree. So if your men can cross dress, our women have no problem wearing a bin bag.

  • 0
    1

    Unconditional Muslim Support Facilitated Island’s Independence
    and….Unconditional Muslim Support Facilitated the passing of the 18th Amendment.

    • 2
      1

      It is the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and the Muslim MPs in the Govt. the supported the 18th Amendment. It was their political decision and they do not represent the whole Muslim community. Still why pick-out the Muslims only, who are the majority in the Govt. benches; are they all not Sinhala MPs.

  • 1
    0

    i see lot of rude comments,whats the fuss,agree to disagree without using bad language it shows the status of the commentator.

  • 0
    1

    This has been written and said thousands and thousands of times again and again. But the fact remains that those blinded with communal bias and are deaf to reasons other than to what their political regulators or manipulators say. Thus Muslims will continue to be at the receving end of the campaigns of the politically manipulated communal elements unless the Muslims see the reality and device a new poltical path for themselves which will be to engage themself with emerging non-communal progressive forces. Muslims cannot find solutions for their problems isolating themselves from developing new political trends.

  • 0
    0

    The dedication shown by muslim leader of the past for unitary state is not respected by current government or the radicals among the majority community who are naive. If the Muslims sided with LTTE in the separatist struggle the fate of this island would have taken different course. R2P would have been applied with much ease by the west.

    Muslims fought with the Army in the East, many muslims lost their life’s and many more were killed by terrorist groups.

    The regime is hell bent on inventing a new enemy of the state, the efforts has been put on back seat due to the UNHRC sessions.

    On the other hand the current crops of muslim leaders are not helping the cause, they are corrupt to the core not much different to the ruling regime.

    What the author highlighted as 130,000 muslims in refugee camps is with the population as of now after 24 years since they were evicted.

    Thank you MR. Latheef Farook for reminding us of the efforts of the respected politicians of the past. Let’s hope and pray the good times are not too far away.

    • 0
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      I know you pigs[Edited out]

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